Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thomas And His Toxic Friends

James is the bleachy one, Percy's lead based paint is lots of fun. Sorry. Parents will understand.

As an American journalist based in China, I knew there was a good chance that at some point I would be detained for pursuing a story. I just never thought I'd be held hostage by a toy factory.

That is what happened last Monday, when for nine hours I was held, along with a translator and a photographer, by the suppliers of the popular Thomas & Friends toy rail sets.

"You've intruded on our property," one factory boss shouted at me. "Tell me, what exactly is the purpose of this visit?"

When I answered that I had come to meet the maker of a toy that had been recalled in the United States because it contained lead paint, he suggested I was really a commercial spy intent on stealing the secrets to the factory's toy manufacturing process.

My kid loves Thomas the Tank Engine. At the prices they charge for the toys, one would think that they were lovingly hand crafted in England where the show originates. Nope. Just more toxic crap with lead in it made in China.